Under the best of circumstances, jury duty is a lackluster affair in which panelists receive a pittance for their time. Toss in reputed Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, accused of being the head of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, and the dreary affair is laden with a host of concerns.
That’s what federal prosecutors in New York have discovered this week as U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, who is overseeing Guzman’s trial inside a highly secure federal courthouse in Brooklyn, dismissed more than two dozen potential jurors in the first two days of jury selection.
Ten potential jurors were excused from the case on Tuesday and 17 were dismissed Monday, with several reportedly indicating they feared the consequences of any verdict.
One of the people dismissed Tuesday said she had read a news report that said Guzman had promised not to kill jurors, which she said made her “pretty anxious,” according to Reuters. A man was let go after he expressed having “some emotions mixed with fear.”
Another woman told the judge she would have to “move and get a new house.” Her remarks caused Guzman to laugh. A man was also reportedly dismissed after saying he was “a bit of a fan” and asked for Guzman’s autograph.
Similar dismissals occurred on the first day of jury selection when 45 of about 100 potential jurors were interviewed by Cogan.
“What scares me is that his family could come after jurors and their family,” one woman said in court Monday before she was dismissed by the judge, CBS News reported.
Another potential juror was sent home after telling the judge she was “nervous” about being on the jury.